I love coming up with excuses to take photos of my son Alec and his beautiful girlfriend Cindy. They started dating when he was 13 years old. For the past five years I’ve photographed their anniversaries, birthdays, holidays and of course Valentine’s Day. One Valentine’s Day we planned a picnic on the beach at our favorite spot. Someone buried a trunk of a Palm tree deep in the sand so it would stand up. It was beautiful. As the sun started to set, I had an idea for a Silhouette that represented Valentine’s Day. This is how I got the shot.

Quick settings overview

  • Nikon D700
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens
  • Shot at
    • f/22
    • 1/400 sec shutter speed
    • ISO 200
    • aperture priority
    • -2/3 EV (exposure compensation)

The sun started to set behind the Palm tree. I quickly exposed for the background before I asked Alec and Cindy to take their positions. I stopped the aperture down to f/22 to produce a beautiful sun burst and kept the camera in aperture priority mode. This allowed the camera to intelligently select the shutter speed to produce the proper exposure. The proper exposure was coming out a little too bright so I used a -2/3 EV (exposure compensation) to darken the image. As I composed the shot, I experimented moving slightly to catch the sun peaking just on the edge of the Palm tree. I asked Alec and Cindy to take their position. With the settings dialed in, I moved my body to position the sunburst in the correct spot.


To get this effect you have to stare directly into the sun, something our Elemtary teachers told us never to do. The trick is to get the settings dialed in and set your focus. When your ready, slightly move to find the burst. When you see the bright flare from the sun, quickly take the shot and move away. You will see spots, so make sure this shot is toward the end of your shoot.

Processing in Lightroom

Sunset images generally have a cooler color temperature, while sunrise images generally have a warmer temperature. To mimic sunset, I dragged the white balance slider to the left, down towards the blue. To mimic sunrise, I dragged the white balance slider to the right, up towards the yellow.